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Parliament passes Income Tax legislation without opposition support

Parliament passes Income Tax legislation without opposition support


by staff writer 

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Dec 1, CMC – Opposition legislators Friday night refused to support an amendment to the Income Tax Bill that the Trinidad and Tobago government said was necessary to ensure the island complied with its international obligations to deal with issues such as money laundering and other criminal activities.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert

The Kamla Persad Bissessar led opposition group failed to support the Income Tax Amendment Bill even after the Keith Rowley government had removed various clauses that required the opposition support.

The government had said that the bill was required to comply with the European union/Global Forum tax information sharing process in order to curb tax evasion. The original legislation had required a special parliamentary majority and despite calls from the private sector including the bankers, the opposition failed to lend support claiming that it entrenched on the constitutional rights of citizens.

With both sides sticking to their positions, it was left to the government to make further amendments to ensure the bill’s passage to meet the Friday deadline set by the international community.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert said that among the amendments was reducing the powers of the police to request tax-payers information to certain cases.

“It’s no longer a ‘cuss case’ situation,” he said, adding that the government would “do what it has to do.”

Opposition legislator, Dr. Bhoe Tewarie, said the government was using intimdatory tactics to get the opposition to vote in support of the measure.

“The Attorney General (Faris-Al-Wari) likes to be pejorative, likes to ridicule Members of the House, but if you say anything here in the House, he is one the first to get up and cite a standing order. He likes to use scare tactics, as he did here, of all the things that would happen (if the bill fails.),” he said, adding “the government’s style is to browbeat the Opposition to conform.””

“You are debating a bill on transparency and free exchange of information, yet you don’t have transparency and free exchange of information.”

When the vote on the bill was taken, 19 government legislators voted in support while the 14 opposition members present voted against the measure.

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Guyana says Republic Bank takeover of Scotiabank “unacceptable”

Guyana says Republic Bank takeover of Scotiabank “unacceptable”

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 1, CMC – The Guyana government has described as “unacceptable’ a move that would allow the Trinidad-based Republic Bank to “actually own” at least 53 per cent of the banking services in the country.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon said that the move by Republic Bank to acquire the operations of Scotiabank in Guyana and eight other Caribbean countries is still be assessed.

He said while he notes the objections of the government in Antigua and Barbuda, each country has its own peculiarities.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon

“While Scotiabank is in all these countries, the situation in Guyana is not the same… What (Finance) Minister (Winston) Jordan has said is that the proposal, which has come out, is for Republic Bank, in buying out the ownership of Scotiabank in Guyana, to actually own 51 percent or 53 percent of the banking services in this country and that is unacceptable,’ Harmon said, adding that the David Granger government would determine what is in Guyana’s best interest.

“I believe the statement made by the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda is a good statement. It deals with his situation. Our Minister of Finance has made a statement also, on the matter here, and I believe we are going to assess the situation and we will make a determination as to how it affects us here,” he said.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his administration would not be issuing a vesting order to facilitate the sale after the Trinidad-based Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) said Tuesday it had entered into an agreement to acquire Scotiabank’s banking operations in nine Caribbean countries.

A RFHL statement said that the banks being acquired are located in Guyana, St. Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

It said that the purchase price is US$123 million, which represents US$25 million consideration for total shareholding of Scotiabank Anguilla Limited; and a premium of US$98 million over net asset value for operations in the remaining eight countries.

In his statement, Finance Minister Jordan said the agreement raises a number of issues for the banking sector in Guyana and for the public which the Finance Ministry, the Bank of Guyana and the Government of Guyana will need to carefully consider.

“The Scotiabank decision is made when Guyana’s economy is on the cusp of financial transformation with the onset of a massive new oil and gas sector raises concerns and is regretted,” he said, noting that among the other concerns is the effect on competition and the potential for Republic Bank to have too much influence on the pricing of banking products and rates.

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You Don’t Want Fries With That

You Don’t Want Fries With That

 French fries might be derived from potatoes but they’re no substitute for green leafy vegetables, nutritionists say.

CreditMatt Roth for The New York Times
Image
French fries might be derived from potatoes but they’re no substitute for green leafy vegetables, nutritionists say CreditCreditMatt Roth for The New York Times

If French fries come from potatoes, and potatoes are a vegetable, and vegetables are good for you, then what’s the harm in eating French fries?

Plenty, say experts and nutritionists, including Eric Rimm, a professor in the departments of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, who called potatoes “starch bombs.”

Potatoes rank near the bottom of healthful vegetables and lack the compounds and nutrients found in green leafy vegetables, he said. If you take a potato, remove its skin (where at least some nutrients are found), cut it, deep fry the pieces in oil and top it all off with salt, cheese, chili or gravy, that starch bomb can be turned into a weapon of dietary destruction.

A study last year in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that potatoes have a high glycemic index, which has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The study found that, controlling for other risk factors, participants who ate fried potatoes two to three times a week were at a higher risk of mortality compared with those who ate unfried potatoes.

Sweet potato fries might offer more Vitamin A and fiber than white potato fries but they’re still no health food, experts say. CreditCraig Lee for The New York Times
Image
Sweet potato fries might offer more Vitamin A and fiber than white potato fries but they’re still no health food, experts say. CreditCraig Lee for The New York Times

Dr. Nicola Veronese, of Padua, Italy, who was one of the study’s authors, said he and his colleagues were surprised at the amount of French fries Americans consumed compared with the amount consumed by people in other countries.

In the United States, potatoes are the most consumed vegetable, with Americans eating an average of 115.6 pounds of white potatoes a year, of which two-thirds are in the form of French fries, potato chips and other frozen or processed potato products, according to Agriculture Department statistics.

Of Americans’ appetite for fries, Dr. Rimm said, “It’s too bad in this country you’ll pry them from my cold dead hand.”

But fries, with their appealing “mouth feel” of warmed salt and fat, are undeniably tasty. Going fries-free seems like a lot to ask. So if you do indulge, here are some better ways to do it.

How many fries you eat matters more than things like the fries’ surface area or the type of oil used in making them, Lindsay Moyer, a senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said.

Waffle fries rank lower on the list of better options because their greater surface area soaks up more oil, experts say. CreditEirik Johnson for The New York Times

Consider, for instance, that a large serving of McDonald’s fries is 510 calories, nearly the same as a Big Mac (540 calories), she said. The Agriculture Department lists a serving of fries as three ounces, which amounts to 12 to 15 individual potato sticks, or about 140 calories.

Split your order, get the smallest portion possible or substitute with a side salad or some kind of green vegetable, Ms. Moyer said, or get a baked white or sweet potato instead.

“There aren’t a lot of people who are sending back three-quarters of an order of French fries,” Dr. Rimm said. “I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six French fries.”

The National Potato Council and the National Restaurant Association did not respond to emails for comment.

Some appetizers consist of fries coated with cheese and chili or other dressings, which can deliver as much as 1,000 calories per serving, Ms. Moyer said.

Home fries are a better option because they usually have their skins and are cooked in a skillet instead of being deep-fried. Credit Ryan T. Conaty for The New York Times

Don’t overdo it on the condiments, either: An average packet of ketchup is only 10 calories but the same amount of aioli or mayonnaise can add nearly 100 calories.

“With such an epidemic of obesity, nowadays most of us need to cut back,” Ms. Moyer said. “There’s not a lot of room for an extra 100 calories here and there.”

Elaine Magee, the author of 25 books about nutrition and healthy cooking and a corporate dietitian for the supermarket chain Albertsons Companies, ranked fries best to worst this way:

Homemade baked fries: Make them at a high temperature with a sprinkling of canola or peanut oil.

Home fries: “They tend to still have their skin on as chunked or wedged potatoes, and they aren’t deep fried but tend to be fried in a skillet, usually in oil,” she said.

Sweet potato fries: Ms. Magee said Americans aren’t likely to eat as many of them as white potato fries, and they will have more Vitamin A and fiber. Still, don’t be lulled into thinking too highly of them, Ms. Moyer said, noting they’re “no health food.”

Nutritionists warn that French fry servings laden with toppings can amount to 1,000 calories.CreditClay Williams for The New York Times

Chili cheese fries: These are second to last but it depends on the kinds of fries, the chili ingredients and the amount of cheese, Ms. Magee said.

Poutine: “This is an example of taking something with fat and salt (French fries) and topping it with something that adds more fat and saturated fat (cheese curds) and topping that with something that contributes potentially more fat, saturated fat and salt (gravy),” Ms. Magee said.

Diners should ask how often a restaurant changes its oil, Dr. Rimm said. The repeated heating, cooling and reuse of oil promotes the creation of unhealthy fatty acids.

Sharon Zarabi, the bariatric program director and a registered dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, noted that corn oil, which is often used in making French fries, is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which contribute to inflammation.

“In a country where we already consume a fatty diet comprising mostly of pro-inflammatory markers of omega-6 versus heart-healthy omega-3 (often found in fatty fish) we must limit its use and intake,” she said in an email.

Dr. Rimm suggested that consumers track how they feel after eating fries, and that, in turn, might lead to changes in eating habits.

Ms. Magee said to savor the flavor. Take half a fry, put it on your tongue and close your eyes, she said.

“Anything can be eaten healthfully if it’s eaten mindfully,” she said. “If you eat French fries that way, you will probably be satisfied with 10.”

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Fly-jamaica Plane was damaged as a result of the Fly Jamaica crash landing

Fly Jamaica Sued Over Crash Landing in Guyana

 

Fly-jamaica Plane was damaged as a result of the Fly Jamaica crash landing

TORONTO, Canada, December 4, 2018 – A Toronto-based law firm has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Fly Jamaica almost a month after one of the airline’s Canada-bound planes was forced to make an emergency landing at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in Guyana last month, resulting in injuries to some passengers.

The lawsuit filed by Rochon Genova LLP last Friday seeks “just compensation to passengers and their families who have been harmed as a result of this dreadful accident”, a statement from the law firm said.

Four passengers, Invor Bedessee, Shanta Persaud, Harpreet Singh, and Zakran Ally – all residents of the Greater Toronto Area – are proposed representative plaintiffs in the class action.

“A timely and fair resolution of this case is of critical importance to the victims and their families. Only a focused approach to this litigation, having regard to precisely what went wrong, can achieve this result,” said Joel Rochon, Managing Partner of Rochon Genova LLP, which has extensive experience in both aviation and class action litigation.

According to a statement from the law firm, the Fly Jamaica Boeing 757-23N aircraft was scheduled to depart the CJIA on November 9 at 1:30 a.m., for the Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto, with 120 passengers, including two infants, and eight crew members on board.

“After a delay of approximately 40 minutes due to a technical issue with its front door, the aircraft took off. Approximately 20 minutes into the flight the pilot announced to the passengers that he was encountering an unspecified ‘hydraulic problem’ and would have to turn back.  When the aircraft did touch down, the flight crew was unable to stop the aircraft on the runway, crashed through a perimeter fence and went over a sand berm, ripping off its right side landing-gear and engine. Passengers reported a chaotic evacuation from the darkened smoke-filled aircraft,” it said.

“According to the Guyana Minister of Public Infrastructure in his report to the Guyana National Assembly, the flight crew did not declare an emergency with air traffic control prior to landing. As a result, emergency crash fire and rescue vehicles and personnel were delayed in their arrival at the crash scene, and passengers had to make their way back to the air tesmokerminal on their own.

“Due to the severity of this crash landing and the ensuing emergency evacuation, passengers suffered many injuries and lost valuable belongings.  One woman died after the crash,” the law firm added.

The latter referred to the death of 86-year-old Guyanese Rookia Kalloo who passed away a week after the incident. Fly Jamaica has said it is “investigating” what led to her death. The family of the elderly woman had told local media that she was behaving oddly in the days that followed the incident, and when she was admitted to hospital after her symptoms worsened, they were told she had suffered a head injury.

 

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Man drinking sex drink- file-20181206-128190-hd2cwb

Beware of natural supplements for sex gain and weight loss

The Conversation


Natural supplements may be popular, but they can have dangerous side effects when they include prescription drugs. Oleksandr Zamuruiev/Shutterstock.com

December 7, 2018

Many consumers consider dietary supplements to be natural and, therefore, safe. In fact, the Council for Responsible Nutrition reported in 2017, that 87 percent of U.S. consumers have confidence that dietary supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, oils, microbiome bacteria, and amino acids, are safe and effective. Unfortunately, their confidence may be misplaced when it comes to supplements for male sexual dysfunction and weight loss.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, 776 dietary supplement products from 146 different manufacturers sold between 2007 and 2016 contained synthetic/prescription drugs. Most of these products are marketed for just two conditions, sexual enhancement (45.5 percent) or weight loss (40.9 percent). Most recently, on Nov. 30, 2018, the FDA advised consumers not to purchase a product called Willy Go Wild, available online and in some retail stores because the product includes hidden prescription drugs.

Why does this matter?

As a pharmacist and dietary supplement researcher, I’m concerned about the hidden inclusion of these prescription drugs in supplements. It increases the risk of patient harm, and it allows people to attribute the benefits and harms they experience to an herb rather than to the true culprit – the added drug. This makes it harder for doctors and pharmacists to decipher in what types of patients these natural therapies could be used and in whom they should be avoided.

Risky sex enhancement pills

Packaging for Viagra in a Madrid pharmacy. Enriscapes/Shutterstock.com

It is considered malpractice for pharmacists to fill prescriptions for erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs like Viagra, Levitra or Cialis if patients are taking nitrate drugs, such as nitroglycerin pills or spray or isosorbide mono/dinitrate. These nitrate drugs are often used to treat chest pain or heart failure. Combining them with a drug to treat ED; as the FDA said the makers of Willy Go Wild did, can cause a patient’s blood pressure to drop precipitously. This in turn can lead to hospitalization or death.

Some patients taking nitrate drugs, who cannot safely take one of the ED drugs, have turned instead to so-called natural products. Had they bought one of the 353 tainted products, they would have gotten the same active ingredients nonetheless.

In addition, prescription erectile dysfunction drugs can cause priapism, a medical emergency where the penis can be irreparably damaged. The higher the dose consumed, the greater the risk. So imagine you want to enhance your prescription erectile dysfunction drug with an herbal remedy only to find out you were getting a prescription drug’s active ingredient instead. There are cases of priapism with herbal sexual dysfunction medications.

ED drugs and antidepressants

Some other dietary supplement products for male enhancement added a drug called daptoxetine. The FDA has not approved it for any reason, including sexual dysfunction. People on other serotonin-enhancing drugs for depression or intestinal issues are more likely to end up with a condition called serotonin syndrome when inadvertently exposed to this undisclosed drug. Serotonin syndrome is a life-threatening problem with high body temperatures, muscle stiffness, seizures and kidney damage.

Sibutramine, an appetite suppressant, was removed from the U.S. market by the FDA in 2010 because its use increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. However, 269 dietary supplement products touted for weight loss contained sibutramine, and others contained the stimulants ephedrine and fenfluramine.

Ephedrine, a stimulant, was banned in the U.S. because it also increased cardiovascular risk. Fenfluramine, an amphetamine derivative, was combined with phentermine in the popular “fen-phen” diet that was banned after numerous cases of pulmonary hypertension, heart valve damage and heart failure occurred.

Still other dietary supplement products for weight loss contained the laxative phenolphthalein or prescription diuretics. Phenolphthalein is no longer used as a laxative in the U.S. because it may cause cancer and hurt fetuses. Laxatives and diuretics only cause weight loss through diarrhea or loss of water weight. They do not result in fat loss. They can cause dangerously low blood pressure and low blood potassium concentrations.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2015 estimated that dietary supplements led to 23,000 emergency department visits and over 2,000 hospitalizations a year. Weight loss products or those related to increased energy also caused 72 percent of supplement-related adverse events, including palpitations, chest pain or racing heart rate. I suspect the predominance of deliberate synthetic drug tainting of these dietary supplements might explain some of these findings.

How can you protect yourself?

If a package claims to be magic or to provide a miracle cure, don’t buy it. Peter Hermes Furian/Shutterstock.com

The FDA does not approve dietary supplements, and in many ways you are on your own. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 created a new category of health product. As long as the product contains natural ingredients intended to promote or support health and not to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease, it qualifies as a dietary supplement. Under DSHEA, the FDA has to prove risk to human health before removing these products from the U.S. market.

The FDA, however, does have an ongoing list of products in which they have detected synthetic or prescription drugs, and you can check that out. If the product you have purchased is on that list, don’t use it. On Nov. 20, 2018, two dietary supplements for pain or drug addiction were found to be tainted with tianeptine, an antidepressant drug that is not FDA-approved for use in the U.S. market. If your product is not on that list, however, it doesn’t guarantee lack of tainting. The FDA simply does not have the resources to check the tens of thousands of dietary supplements on U.S. shelves.

Independent laboratory verification from the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) can help assure that the vitamin or herb specified on the label is in the bottle and that the product has a low risk of microbe, heavy metal or PCB contamination. Unfortunately, USP does not routinely test dietary supplements for synthetic or prescription drug tainting.

ConsumerLab.com does not usually test for prescription drug tainting during their product verification either. However, for sexual dysfunction drugs, ConsumerLab.com did test for prescription drug tainting.

Beware of dietary supplements manufactured in Asia, because they are more likely to be contaminated and tainted according to the FDA. Also, ethnically diverse, non-English speaking and poor people are more likely to come across tainted dietary supplements because they shop for these products at ethnic stores, flea markets, swap meets or online. Buying from reputable brands in reputable stores or websites might reduce the risk. Finally, don’t believe miraculous claims of effectiveness, especially if the only data to back it up comes from testimonials.

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PANCAP calls for better environment to allow people to be tested for HIV/AIDS

PANCAP calls for better environment to allow people to be tested for HIV/AIDS

 

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Dec 1, CMC – The Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) Saturday urged all stakeholders, including regional governments, to ensure that the necessary actions are taken to allow people who want to know their HIV/AIDS status to “come forward with the knowledge that they will not be treated differently”.

PANCAP director, Dereck Springer, in a message marking World AIDS Day, said such persons if they tested positive should receive “the treatment, care and support they need to enjoy good quality lives and achieve viral suppression.

“Only then can we get them to know their status and begin the journey towards ending AIDS as a public health threat in the Caribbean,” he warned.

World AIDS Day is being observed under theme “Know your status” and Springer said that it encourages people to be tested.

“This theme is very relevant as the world has committed to fast track actions towards achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets by the year 2020. The UNAIDS 2018 Global AIDS Monitoring (GAM) report informs us that there are an estimated 310,000 adults and children living with HIV in the Caribbean, of which nearly 55,000 are unaware that they have HIV.”

Springer said that while many people experience anxieties when contemplating being tested, it is good to know that the majority of them will test HIV negative.

“What is important is those who know that they are HIV negative have an incentive to keep themselves free from HIV by adopting changes to their lives that can reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV. The few who test positive for HIV can have immediate access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs that would enable them to enjoy a good quality life and live much longer.

“The 2018 UNAIDS GAM report also helps us to understand that we still need to place 74,400 persons who are living with HIV on treatment and 103,000 are yet to achieve viral suppression, that is, having very low levels of virus in the body, even though the virus is still present,”’ the PANCAP director said.

He said the science and evidence show that AIDS can be defeated “once we get 90 per cent of people to know their HIV status, of those who are HIV positive 90 per cent receive anti-retroviral drugs and are retained in care, and 90 per cent of those on treatment achieve viral suppression. Once this happens, we are well on the way to achieving the end of AIDS, by 2030.”

But he said the biggest challenges facing the region are persistent judgment and unfair treatment of people living with HIV and persons belonging to key population groups such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, persons who use drugs, migrants and other mobile populations, and persons with disabilities.

“We judge persons who are different from us and we often times treat them differently. We do so because we do not take the time to understand. This year’s theme must, therefore, serve as a catalyst for increased strategic advocacy using the PANCAP Regional Advocacy Strategy 2017 and national advocacy plans for increasing political will to remove the policies and legislative barriers that obstruct people from coming forward to know their HIV status. The fear is real as people are concerned that they will be treated differently if they test positive.

“We must bring into the spotlight the critical need for laboratory improvements and increased coverage in our region. We need more laboratory facilities including those led by the communities themselves to know our status.

“We need laboratories to confirm community-led HIV screening tests. We need laboratories and point-of-care diagnostic systems to monitor our viral loads and health care providers who are trained to provide clinical management for HIV-related illnesses,’ Springer added.

Meanwhile, .UNAIDS said that the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day provides an occasion to remember the millions of people who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses because they couldn’t access HIV services or because of stigma and discrimination.

It said last year, 9.4 million people living with HIV globally were not aware of their status.

“If people don’t know their HIV status, those who are living with HIV can’t start treatment, and those who are HIV-negative can’t get the knowledge and skills they need to stay that way. Access to HIV testing is a basic human right, and UNAIDS is calling for a global commitment to remove the barriers preventing people from testing. This includes eliminating HIV-related stigma and discrimination and ensuring confidentiality in HIV testing and treatment services.”

Countries are also urged to deploy an optimal mix of HIV testing strategies including community-based testing and home testing to help mitigate many of the logistical, structural and social barriers to people learning their status. This is particularly important for men and members of key population communities.

UNAIDS said that there were an estimated 310,000 people living with HIV in the Caribbean in 2017. The region experienced 10,000 AIDS-related deaths last year. AIDS-related deaths have declined by 23 per cent in the Caribbean since 2010. In 2017 there were an estimated 15,000 new infections. New infections have decreased by 18% in the region since 2010.

It said 73 per cent of people living with HIV in the Caribbean were aware of their status in 2017.

“Late diagnosis is also a challenge for several countries in the region. In 2017 nearly quarter of HIV diagnoses occurred among people with advanced HIV infection,” UNAIDS said, adding that 79 per cent  of diagnosed people were receiving antiretroviral treatment in 2017 while 70 per cent of those on treatment were virally suppressed. This viral suppression rate is far below the global average of 81 per cent.

“The Caribbean must strengthen strategies for successful treatment including increasing viral load monitoring, scaling up support for organizations that provide psychosocial services to those on treatment, and working to reduce stigma and discrimination,” said UNAIDS Latin America and Caribbean Regional Support Team Director, Dr. César Núñez.

CMC/id/ir/2018

 

 
 

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PANCAP Director, Derek Springer

Message from the Director of PANCAP, Mr. Dereck Springer

on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2018

PANCAP Director, Derek Springer

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     This year’s World AIDS Day theme “Know your status” encourages us to be tested to know whether we are HIV negative or positive. This theme is very relevant as the world has committed to Fast Track actions towards achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets by the year 2020. The UNAIDS 2018 Global AIDS Monitoring (GAM) report informs us that there are an estimated 310,000 adults and children living with HIV in the Caribbean, of which nearly 55,000 are unaware that they have HIV. 
 
While many people experience anxieties when contemplating being tested, it is good to know that the majority of these will test HIV negative. What is important is those who know that they are HIV negative have an incentive to keep themselves free from HIV by adopting changes to their lives that can reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV. The few who test positive for HIV can have immediate access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs that would enable them to enjoy a good quality life and live much longer.
 
The 2018 UNAIDS GAM report also helps us to understand that we still need to place 74,400 persons who are living with HIV on treatment and 103,000 are yet to achieve viral suppression, that is, having very low levels of virus in the body, even though the virus is still present.
 
Science and evidence show that AIDS can be defeated once we get 90 percent of people to know their HIV status, of those who are HIV positive 90 percent receive anti-retroviral drugs and are retained in care, and 90 percent of those on treatment achieve viral suppression. Once this happens, we are well on the way to achieving the end of AIDS, by 2030.
 
So what is stopping us from achieving these 90-90-90 targets? The biggest challenges we face are persistent judgment and unfair treatment of people living with HIV and persons belonging to key population groups such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, persons who use drugs, migrants and other mobile populations, and persons with disabilities. We judge persons who are different from us and we often times treat them differently. We do so because we do not take the time to understand.  This year’s theme must, therefore, serve as a catalyst for increased strategic advocacy using the PANCAP Regional Advocacy Strategy 2017 and national advocacy plans for increasing political will to remove the policies and legislative barriers that obstruct people from coming forward to know their HIV status. The fear is real as people are concerned that they will be treated differently if they test positive.
 
We must bring into the spotlight the critical need for laboratory improvements and increased coverage in our region. We need more laboratory facilities including those led by the communities themselves to know our status. We need laboratories to confirm community-led HIV screening tests.  We need laboratories and point-of-care diagnostic systems to monitor our viral loads and health care providers who are trained to provide clinical management for HIV-related illnesses.
 
We cannot get people tested if we do not have test kits, the right diagnostic equipment, and the right human resources. When we talk about placing 90 percent of people who are HIV positive on treatment and retaining them on treatment we must also ensure that we do not have stock-outs of key drugs. How can we be taken seriously when we encourage people to be tested and then fail to provide uninterrupted treatment? How can we fail to respond to people living with HIV when sometimes drugs are not available and people become anxious because their health care provider had stressed the importance of adherence to treatment and the impact of non-adherence on their health, including the potential for drug resistance?
 
If we are serious about getting people to know their status, we must move beyond the rhetoric to decisive actions to demonstrate that we understand the full implication of what it means to move someone who tests HIV positive to sustained viral suppression. We must guarantee good quality laboratory testing and laboratory services, uninterrupted treatment and monitoring within our health care system. And we must begin to tackle the reform of the justice system to enable persons who suffer discrimination to obtain redress in a timely manner. This calls for the engagement and involvement of our ministries of justice and attorneys general among others.
 
I call upon our governments and all who can make this happen to take the necessary actions to create an enabling environment in which people who want to know their status can come forward with the knowledge that they will not be treated differently, and that if they test positive they will be provided with the treatment, care and support they need to enjoy good quality lives and achieve viral suppression. Only then can we get them to know their status and begin the journey towards ending AIDS as a public health threat in the Caribbean. 
 
 
 

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David-Brandt

Appeal Court denies two major appeals

Dr Perkins and lawyer Brandt lose their appeals

Dr. Franklin Perkins was adjudicated guilty by a nine-member panel jury on March 1, 2017, following a trial in the allegation that he indecently assaulted a nineteen-year-old female in his private surgery at Cudjoe Head.

Dr Franklin Perkins

Justice Ian Morley in the high court on Monday morning handed down the sentence in March this year, where he was ordered to pay the victim $10,000 within three months in default of which, he would serve a period of six months in jail. In addition, he was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence.

The 67-year-old medical doctor appealed the sentence against his conviction seeking to have the conviction quashed or reduced, insisting that it was a routine medical examination. This week the Appeal Court denied his appeal commenting that he in fact received a light sentence and that the $10,000 compensation was reasonable.

Dr. Perkins had appealed on five grounds which the court rejected.

They were: That the Trial Judge interfered in the case to such an extent that he became another prosecutor in the matter.

That the judge failed to carry out a means test and as a result the $10, 000 compensation awarded by the court was too severe in all circumstances;

That the judge did not properly direct the jury on how to treat with the evidence of the victim’s demeanor;

That the Judge failed to properly direct the jury on recent complaint; and, that the trial judge erred when he failed to allow the accused (Dr. Perkins) to give an unsworn statement from the dock.

At the sentencing, the doctor having denied that he committed the act, insisting that it simply was a routine medical examination, trial judge Justice Morley said he considered the statements given by persons who spoke in support of Dr. Perkins during his sentencing, adding that he also received a letter from some members of the medical fraternity on Montserrat who expressed surprise and disappointment at the guilty verdict.

 Giving an extended account of the case, he stated that this assault on the victim’s reputation and that of her family indicates an undercurrent of racism, sexism and snobbery in the Montserrat society.

Related – see: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/dr-perkins-gets-suspended-prison-sentence-and-victim-compensation-fine/

Brandt loses appeal but hints at taking the matter further to Privy Council

In another high-profile matter before the appeal court this week, Attorney David S. Brandt also lost a five-ground appeal against the decision of the trial judge, Justice Bell, at sufficiency hearing when Justice Bell ruled against him that on the strict construction of the statutes, the prosecution was right to lay the charges.


Attorney David S. Brandt

The lawyer was charged in 2015 with five counts of child sexual exploitation.

He had appealed to the court on the grounds that he was denied the protection of the law as provided for under the Montserrat Constitutional order 2010, the high court judge in his ruling calling the grounds ‘absurd’.

The court of appeal, in handing down the decision Thursday afternoon, was in full agreement with the trial Judge Justice Bell. In dismissing the appeal, the court ordered that the matter be remitted to the trial judge in the high for the continuation of the sufficiency hearing.

The court also asked that counsel provide submissions regarding the costs of the appeal.

However, it is believed that the Attorney will take the matter to the Privy Council convinced that his attorneys are right in their constitutional arguments.

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Glasgow university to pay reparations for £200m extracted from region

Glasgow university to pay reparations for £200m extracted from region

 November 25, 2018 |

Beckles

Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI) Sir Hilary Beckles has reported that The University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom (UK) is planning to pay reparations for £200 million (approximately J$34 billion) taken from the Caribbean.

According to Beckles, who recently returned from the UK, “The University of Glasgow has recognised that Jamaican slave owners had adopted the University of Glasgow as their university of choice and that £200 million of value was extracted from Jamaica and the Caribbean.”

Beckles made the announcement during an interview on the Jamaica News Network (JNN) programme Insight, where he said that the Vice Chancellor of the UK-based university Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli opened up their records, which showed a ‘massive influx’ of grants and endowments from Jamaica.

He said that the University of Glasgow and The UWI are currently drafting a memorandum of understanding, and the term ‘reparatory justice’ is expected to be included.

Beckles said the £200 million would be a combination of cash and kind. “We are not on the street corners asking for handouts. We are looking for partnerships and development.”

One of the projects in which the University of Glasgow has reportedly shown interest involves research in chronic diseases in the Caribbean, including hypertension, diabetes, and childhood obesity.

“They are looking at the possibility of partnering with us and having a massive institute for chronic disease research that is going to prevent the proliferation of these diseases in the future,” said Beckles.

£200m from slave trade

A report dubbed Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow, published recently by the university, reveals that it benefited directly from the slave trade in Africa and the Caribbean in the 18th and 19th centuries to the tune of almost £200 million in today’s money.

The university has announced that it has launched a wide-ranging and ambitious “reparative justice programme” that is based on the findings of more than two years of research.

In addition, the University of Glasgow had also announced that it intends to implement programmes and projects that will provide scholarships and exchange programmes for Jamaican and other Caribbean students through its links with The UWI.

The full interview with Beckles will be aired on JNN on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article gave the impression that a total value of £200 million would be paid to the Caribbean through the University of the West Indies.)

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RE-SAT Montserrat

Minister welcomes new renewable energy space technology initiative for Montserrat

UK-based Institute for Environmental Analytics is to partner with the Government of Montserrat to implement an innovative renewable energy analytics platform – RE-SAT – to support the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The partnership has been made possible by investment from the UK Space Agency International Partnership Programme (IPP) and reflects Montserrat’s position at the forefront of promoting clean growth.

RE-SAT fuses satellite and in-situ weather data with advanced analytics to provide highly detailed renewable energy information to help users:  

  • Explore and define the best renewable energy mix.
  • Plan where to locate different renewable energy infrastructure.
  • Assess the potential financial viability of renewable energy investments.
  • Estimate power production and variability, taking into account seasonal weather patterns.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is being signed to mark the partnership between the Ministry of Communications, Works, Energy and Labour (MCWEL) and the IEA. They will work together and with other key stakeholders to tailor RE-SAT to their needs and build capacity to support its implementation, combining the IEA’s expertise with in-country knowledge and skills.

Minister of Communications, Works, Energy and Labour, Paul Lewis welcomed the collaboration, saying: “The Government of Montserrat’s vision to transform to 100% renewable energy on the grid and its green connected and thriving ICT theme clearly merges ICT, telecommunications and energy agenda to create an environment for economic growth. The MoU between MCWEL and the UK-based Institute for Environmental Analytics to implement an innovative, renewable energy analytics planning platform to support the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy is welcomed.

“This tool will inform decisions pertaining to best possible energy sources and combinations, ideal energy infrastructure locations, estimated power production and variability based on seasonal weather patterns. We embrace the development and use of this tool to inform the Government and private sector renewable energy investments.

“I express our gratitude to IEA and the UK Space Agency for including Montserrat as one of the six small island developing states in their International Partnership Programme. We look forward to working together in the development of our island.”

Permanent Secretary Beverley Mendes added: “The Ministry of Communication, Works, Energy and Labour is pleased to have been afforded the opportunity to be at the forefront of this collaboration

between the Government of Montserrat and UK-based, Institute for Environmental Analytics. The development and application of a renewable energy analytical planning platform will allow for more informed decisions to be made as it pertains to the investigation, implementation and improvement of renewable energy sources on Montserrat. A number of Government entities have been enlisted in the development process to ensure the platform is equipped with the necessary data. We are looking forward to working with the IEA on such an important initiative.”

Colin McKinnon, CEO of the IEA, said: “By working closely with Montserrat we will provide the quality of data they need to develop a sound business case to switch to renewable sources to a far greater extent. Understanding minute-by-minute variability is a key question as it affects the requirement for reserve energy generation. However, long periods of historic observations are often not available from existing data sources. With our world-leading skills in data analytics we will use Earth observation data to construct a synthetic weather model for Montserrat to improve both the planning of renewable investment and also the management of reserve capacity.

“As RE-SAT is funded by the UK Space Agency International Partnership Programme, the project runs as a true partnership, using the knowledge and expertise of our Montserrat partners. It is not a one-off consultancy exercise by a third party.”

Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “We’re proud to support Montserrat in their transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, which will deliver greater self-sufficiency while reducing global carbon emissions to combat climate change.”

Montserrat is one of six small-island developing states (SIDS) to benefit from £2.9m investment from the UK Space Agency IPP in RE-SAT. The others are: St Lucia, Mauritius, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu.

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